Costa Mesa, CA, USA

Travel Costa Mesa Blog

The OC Family Friendly Itinerary Guaranteed to Keep Everyone Happy

Posted on February 28, 2019 | 11:18am | Travel Costa Mesa

Families with kids of all ages will find the perfect compromise of activities in Costa Mesa, California. From theme parks to theatre, beaches to beer trails, it’s all within reach in the sunny SoCal town know as both the City of the Arts® and the Eatcation destination of Orange County.

If you’re looking for the family friendly vacation that’s going to keep everyone happy this year, take a look at our itinerary ideas below (and download our visitor guide here)!

Centennial Farm

Located on the OC Fair & Event Center property, Centennial Farm is a year-round working farm with fruit and vegetable gardens and livestock barns. The farm is host to several educational programs throughout the year and open to visitors daily. Drop in Saturday and Sunday between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. (or Monday through Friday, 1 to 4 p.m.) to learn more about agriculture and farming and see barn animals like pigs, chickens, goats and oxen! Admission is free.

centennial farm costa mesa

OC Fair & Event Center

The OC Fair & Event Center may be best known for the annual OC Fair, one of the top county fairs in the nation, but it also holds family-friendly programming throughout the year. Check out events like the annual Imaginology fair, Flying Miz Daisy Vintage Flea Market or Touch a Truck, where kids can get up close and personal with their favorite trucks and vehicles.

Disneyland® Resort

With the opening of Pixar Pier, the California Adventure Food & Wine Festival and the grand opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge coming this summer, there’s never been a better time to plan your Disneyland visit with a stay in Costa Mesa! Located just a short drive from Anaheim, several Costa Mesa hotels offer a shuttle service directly to and from the park’s gates to make it easy on the whole family. Learn more about the Costa Mesa hotels Disneyland shuttle.

Kid-Friendly Shows and Events

Costa Mesa is home to two of the most popular performing arts centers in Southern California: Segerstrom Center for the Arts and South Coast Repertory.

Tony Award®-winning South Coast Repertory offers a robust seasonal program of theatre for young audiences featuring captivating stories, colorful sets and costumes, and meet and greets with show casts. The Young Audiences performances are designed for ages 4 and up, never run more than 90 minutes, and include shows like the classic story of “The Velveteen Rabbit” (May 24 – June 9).

Segerstrom Center for the Arts, which welcomes traveling Broadway productions and serves as the home of Orange County’s Pacific Symphony, offers both kid friendly and sensory friendly performances where children can talk and move around the theater. Recent performances include “The Very Hungry Caterpillar & Other Eric Carle Favorites,” complete with colorful puppetry.

Segerstrom Center for the Arts also hosts a wide variety of free community programming on it Argyros Plaza throughout the year, including free concerts, dance classes and silent discos.

Orange County Museum of Art

Orange County Museum of Art (OCMA) is widely recognized for its collection of modern and contemporary art. Admission to the museum is currently free and tours are offered Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. As part of OCMA’s mission to inspire, it regularly offers Free Family Days, where families can participate in hands-on activities, learn from artists and enjoy musical performances in the galleries.

Chuck Jones Center for Creativity

Expand your creativity at one of the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity’s free monthly Drop in and Draw events at SOCO and The OC Mix! Held on the third Saturday of every month, kids (and their parents) can jump in and learn to draw a different cartoon character like Bugs Bunny or Marvin Martian created by legendary cartoonist Chuck Jones. The center offers four activity stations with teaching artists on hand. Afterward, wander over to the Chuck Jones Gallery, located inside The OC Mix, to see some of the artist’s most popular works.

Kid Friendly Shopping

If you want to sneak a little shopping into the trip, try Costa Mesa’s SOCO and the OC Mix, The LAB or The CAMP. All three offer a relaxed mix of outdoor shopping and plenty of space to take a break or explore with kids.

SOCO and The OC Mix is known for its unique local retailers and food hall, featuring everything from casual grab-and-go dining to the LA Times’ Best Restaurant of 2018, plus some pretty Instagrammable backdrops. You can even pick up a snack for the kids at The Cheese Shop before heading to We Olive for a quick wine and olive oil tasting for mom and dad on a peaceful outdoor patio.

The LAB is Orange County’s original “Anti-Mall,” with an artsy outdoor courtyard flanked by boutiques and laid back eateries like the Gypsy Den and Goodtown Doughnuts. Kids love The LAB’s bright art installations and interactive lounge space (can you say giant bean bags?) – you’ll even find a hopscotch pattern on site. Stop in for a mini Pop Bar before exploring The LAB’s eco-friendly sister site, The CAMP, just across the street.

OC Beaches

Want to get in a little beach time? Costa Mesa is the ideal home base to be close to all the best Orange County beaches! Take a short drive down Newport Boulevard to reach the sandy shores of Newport Beach and explore spots like quaint Balboa Island or take a scenic drive a few miles up Pacific Coast Highway to walk the Huntington Beach Pier (home to the US Open surfing competition in the summer months). With other beach city neighbors like Laguna Beach, Dana Point and Corona Del Mar, there’s no shortage of shores! Check out our list of six Orange County beaches beloved by locals here.

Costa Mesa Parks

Explore the great outdoors in one of Orange County’s scenic parks! Costa Mesa is home to two nature preserves and several recreational parks. For long nature walks, head to Fairview Park or Talbert Regional Park where you can stroll along easy trails and enjoy several miles of peaceful native California landscape. Fairview Park is also home to the Goat Hill Junction Railroad, a children’s train that offers free rides on the third weekend of every month.

For some historical education, visit the Diego Sepulveda Adobe, a California Historical Landmark. Originally built between 1817 and 1823, the small adobe served as a home to herdsmen who tended cattle and horses from Mission San Juan Capistrano and then as a family home in the late 1800s. Now, it operates as a free museum, open on the first and third Saturday of every month, representing four distinct periods in Orange County history.

fairview park costa mesa

Skateboarding Camps and Classes

For a little adventure, sign the kids up for a skateboarding camp or class at the Costa Mesa Skate Park! Shreducate Academy, offers weekly group classes and seasonal camps where everyone from very beginning to intermediate skaters can learn from instructors. Students are encouraged to bring their own safety and skating equipment, but they can also be rented from the academy for a nominal fee.

Find Family-Friendly Costa Mesa Hotel

Download a copy of the Costa Mesa visitor guide